N.W.A. founding member and tech entrepreneur Arabian Prince is shaping the future
By Jasmin St. Claire
From rap music icon to technology guru, Kim Renard Nazel is a renaissance man.
Under the moniker Arabian Prince, the Marina del Rey resident helped found the rap group N.W.A., which was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
He is responsible for some of the group’s hit songs such as “Panic Zone,” as well as the albums “N.W.A. and the Posse” and “Straight Outta Compton.”
“People always ask me about my name,” Arabian Prince said. “In 1983, while I was deejaying at Skateland U.S.A. in Compton under the name DJ Prince with my good friend Egyptian Lover, a girl came over and said, ‘You should call yourself Arabian Prince because you’re always hanging out with this guy.’”
While deejaying at Skateland, Arabian Prince met Dr. Dre and they eventually teamed up to produce a few projects together. It came naturally for Arabian
Prince as he grew up hanging out in the KACE-FM radio control room, where his father was a DJ on talk radio. While his dad was working, Arabian Prince would mix music, and electronics and deejaying became his two passions.
“While living in Compton as a kid, I had family members that were in gangs and doing crazy things,” Arabian Prince said. “They never wanted me to be in that lifestyle, so they gave me electronics to play with. When I was 15, I coded my own radio. When I was old enough to DJ, I saved some cash and built my own computer.”
By 1985, rap was evolving into storytelling that centered around partying, clubs and girls, and reflected musical artists’ daily life struggles. But as gang activity and rivalries grew, throwing parties became potentially dangerous gatherings. As the environment in South Central Los Angeles changed, so did the musical style, which led to a new genre known as gangster rap.
Arabian Prince also met Eazy-E at Skateland, who at the time he referred to as a “pharmaceutical technician or a street executive.” In addition to Dr. Dre, they added Ice Cube and MC Ren into the mix and N.W.A was born.
“I had a great relationship with Eazy-E,” Arabian Prince said. “Early on when N.W.A. started, it was primarily a lot of business talk because I had done the record thing for a while. I had a lot of knowledge of the do’s and don’ts when it came to making records.”
In 1987, N.W.A released the single “Panic Zone” on which Arabian Prince was a co-writer and vocalist. A year later when Ruthless Records was formed by Eazy-E and N.W.A.’s manager Jerry Heller, Arabian Prince helped the group earn a gold record when they released “Supersonic,” which he had originally produced for J.J. Fad.
According to a few sources, that was the hit that made Eazy-E a lot of money. Arabian Prince also included Dr. Dre and DJ Yella’s names on the record because he saw them as his brothers, although he had made the record by himself.
When Heller came into the picture, he became partners with Eazy-E for Ruthless Records and started managing the band. Some say he was the element that poisoned N.W.A., which made the group feel less like a family and more like a business.
“As soon as Jerry took control, he had every excuse under the sun for everything,” Arabian Prince said. “A great discrepancy in the 2015 N.W.A. biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is when they show Ice Cube raising questions about the royalties, then leaving the band over the dispute. Truth of the matter is, I was getting in Jerry’s face about the royalties. I started off as a solo artist, so I was aware of what a royalty statement was. I knew that when these many records were sold, there is a quarterly statement and when you look at it, you can see how much money was paid and then share it. This was not the case. We were also never paid for touring.”
Because of royalty disputes and the way Heller was running the group, Arabian Prince left N.W.A. in 1988 prior to the release of its platinum-selling studio album “Straight Outta Compton,” but his music career wasn’t over.
Arabian Prince continued deejaying and traveled to gigs in Germany, Russia, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Asia. He also performed at parties and clubs around LA and released his first solo album “Brother Arab” in 1989.
A graduate of St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey, Arabian Prince is a longtime resident of Marina del Rey. In his free time, he enjoys golfing and eating at his favorite local spots including Killer Shrimp, J Nichols Kitchen, Tajrish Persian Cuisine and Venice Ramen.
“I always wanted to live in Marina del Rey,” Arabian Prince said. “It’s great here. It’s always 70 degrees, convenient to the beaches, close to the airport and it’s a nice community overall.”
Aside from music, Arabian Prince is also a tech entrepreneur who is dedicated to helping others in the community. Last June during the pandemic, he launched Covitech, a platform that is intended to get people back to work safely.
“The inner cities are really taking a big hit,” Arabian Prince said. “My passion is really taking care of the inner cities. Covitech is a software platform that my partners and I built during the pandemic to help small and large businesses keep an eye on the health of their employees.”
As businesses are slowly reopening, they are also trying to figure out the logistics of bringing people back to work. Many are delayed because they don’t have easy access to testing, protective equipment or other resources that keep employees safe. Putting protocols in place can be expensive and time consuming, and for smaller businesses with few resources, it can be extremely challenging.
Covitech is an easy-to-use app that gives employers access to COVID-19 screenings and informs workers of their status, as well as keeping them on track with local regulations. Employees can self-screen and report any symptoms before they leave home. The app walks employees through a set of questions regarding their temperature, well-being and so forth, then analyzes whether it’s safe or not for them to go to work. This information is then shared with their employer.
Arabian Prince also noticed during COVID-19 that many of his colleagues and friends in the music industry were struggling to transition from live concerts and DJ sets to streaming, so his response was to create GGGOAT PC (Greatest Gadget Gear Of All Time, Greatest Gaming Gear of All Time).
Because of his experience in the tech space, this seemed like a natural fit. Arabian Prince knew the future of technology was streaming and has worked diligently on his own Twitch network, a popular live video streaming service. His twitch handles are @ogggoatnation and @og_arabian_prince_nwa.
“GGGOAT is the PC system we built that is designed to handle the streaming and all the tasks of videos, graphics, sound and overlays that streamers use,” Arabian Prince said.
The system is designed to stream in high quality during live performances, whether it’s music, DJ sets or shows. It includes all of the bells and whistles such as graphics and sound, is affordable and easy to use.
Another project Arabian Prince is working on is Inov8 Next Open Labs, which is located in the heart of Silicon Beach. The studio offers technology workshops, product demos, guest speakers, events and more. It provides today’s youth with a great opportunity to learn how to code video games, computer programs or even set up their own recording studios.
“Inov8 Next Open Labs was created eight years ago to help our inner-city kids and communities have access to technology,” Arabian Prince said. “We work with our tech partners to educate the inner-city youth about the resources and jobs out there, and provide them with classes for those skills.”
For more information, visit inov8next.com, gggoat.com and covitech.us. Follow Arabian Prince on Instagram @ogarabianprince and on Twitter @og_arabianprince